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Southsea Folk Festival 2009
A Review Of The Festival 2001
A Review Of The Festival 2002
A Review Of The Festival 2003
A Review Of The Festival 2004
A Review Of The Festival 2005
A Review Of The Festival 2006
A Review Of The Festival 2007
A Review Of The Festival 2008
A Review Of The Festival 2009

The Fourth Southsea Folk And Roots Festival
South Parade Pier
August 24 - August 31 2003

Here is a summary of the 2004 Festival by "The Spaniel"



The festival kicked off on Bullfrog Blues Club night with The Continentals featuring Andy Broad, who also appeared on the Monday evening, and Amor, led by Jon Amor. I actually prefer these guys in a group environment as opposed to solo, so a good start to the festival.


Being a big fan of Martyn Joseph, I was particularly looking forward to this evening. People had come from as far away as Gloucester and Preston to see onre of the most charismatic singer/songwriters around, and they weren't disappointed. With a hefty back catalogue to draw from, M.J treated us to such classics as "Dolphins Maske Me Cry", Thunder & Rainbows", "Working Mother" plus "One Of Us", along with newies from his latest album "Whoever Brought Me Here", notably the title track, "Just Like The Man Said" and "Wake Me Up". Never one to let an opportunity slip when protesting at public figure idiocy, Martyn latched on to a cerain invasion, and tore the offenders to pieces. Brilliant. Anything less than a standing ovation at the end of the show would have been an injustice itself. He got two.


The first day of free music offered up compere for the weekend George Wilson, a.k.a. "Festival Fred", East Of Ealing, Mary Jane, Bob Cheevers and the brilliant Jackie Leven. George kicked off at 12.10 with a mixture of Richard Thompson songs and jokes from his immense repertoire. Despite his wisecracking offstage persona, on stage this man has an immense love of folk music, and has a rich vibrant voice to go with a nimble finger-picking style of playing.

Unfortunately Deb Sandlands' much looked-forward to appearance never actually happened due to a family crisis at home. Oh, well, there's always next year. East Of Ealing featuring the very striking Stephanie Graffitti (a pseudonym?!) played songs from the album "The Great Unknown" and soon had most of the audience on their feet dancing like they were standing on hot coals. I was impressed enough to buy their C.D.

Bob Cheevers is an accomplished storyteller and songwriter with a few notable C.D's under his belt. However, I managed to miss most of his set due to other commitments (which also made me miss out on Mary Jane). I did however hear one song from Bob's CD "Snapshots" that I knew.

After Bob's easy listening laid back Americana, things livened up with an apparently faultless set from Mary Jane (I'm reliably informed that the P.A didn't blow up this time, and no toys were thrown from any cots...) I like their brand of Celtic Rock and I was annoyed to have missed them.

Ex Doll-By-Doll man Jackie Leven is not only a very honest man (listen to some of his between songs banter recounting his various encounters with lunatic friends, addictions and general craziness) but also an extremely funny man (see same reasons). He also possesses an absolutely wonderful voice which always reminds me of the great Aaron Neville. Jackie sings about life as it is (not always pleasant, sad, cruel, occasionally uplifting), but always with a feeling of hope. A true talent to be treasured.

Magic Khat were the pefect support for the evening's festivities, with Kev Ellis careering around the stage, either spouting psychedelic lyrics or blowing manically through a harmonica, backed by equally manic guitarwork from Chris Hopgood. A crazed version of Edgar Broughton's "Out Demons Out" got the crowd in just the right frame of mind for Arthur Brown.

The god of Hellfire himself arrived on stage in voluminous gold lame trousers, a black hood and carrying a Gandalf style wizard stick, before launching into Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", still hooded. We were also served up a scorching version of "I Put A Spell On You", a red hot "Devil's Grip" and a delightfully crisp "Kitesu", by Simon Dupree and The Big Sound. By the time the got to "that" song, Nick Lyne, the Pier's manager, was standing by with a firehose. Thankfully Arthur didn't set himself or the Pier aflame, but just gave an incendiary performance and left us with a burning desire for more.


Sunday stated off once again with the "Phatt B'stard himself, George Wilson, before we soared off to the Appalachians for some lively tunes from by Festival faves Hard Times String Band. The music's fine, guys, but why the rubber chicken?

Hard Times might have a chicken, but every festival inevitably has a turkey, and State of Undress were that gobbler. To put it bluntly, they were fowl (ouch) and definitely not very digestible. Sorry, guys, but you were clucking awful.

Ben Paley and Tab Hunter had a hard time getting the audience back into the venue after the previous act, but sheer hard work and the refusal to roll over carried them there and eventually a good size crowd showed their appreciation.

Micky Kemp is a star. There, I've said it. From the moment he walked on stage he hit all the right notes and held the audience in the palm of his hand throughout. Country, rock, folk even reggaefied classics, Micky and his band just sailed through. If this man isn't a massive star soon, there's no justice, but then we know that, don't we….

Ditto the dimunuitive but very distinctive Amy Wadge. Amy's first set was the final set of the free music today, but she and her her band came back to support Ezio later that night.

Whether solo or with the band, this is one performer who always gives her everything. Songs from her "Open" and "Woj" albums are given an extra dimension when backed by a band, but I still prefer her solo.

Having said that, she still blew headliners Ezio off the stage according to most people. I found Ezio to be disappointing after all the hype about being one of Tony Blair's choices on "Desert Island Discs" selections. Couldn't we just have them ALL on a desert island?

Apparently Ezio Lunedei wasn't too happy with the reception "La Woj" got and made a bit of a twat of himself, thereby making a return trip to Southsea even less likely.


With the sun still shining and a packed Pier, Steve Daniels delivered a nice set of bluesy folk numbers, most of which I missed, chatting to Andy James of Hard Times String Band who was busking outside.

Apicella have now changed their name to The Jelly Rollers. I wonder why? Anyhow, their set of 20's/30's tunes, which occasionally featured Lord Gnome Of Barking Spider, got feet tapping and ensured we had no repeats of the previous day.

Derrin Naeuendorf showed some fine dextrous fingerwork during his set, which included Bob Dylan's "Hollis Brown"; this had promoter John Roberts drooling foolishly into his Strongbow.

Backwater Roll's brand of harmonica driven blues literally blew the cobwebs away. The west Hants boys kicked up a storm with songs like "Backwater Roll" and "Automatic".

The raffle as usual was conducted by Lord /Gnome assisted by Carole. Prizes included a DVD player, signed C.D's, 100 cash prize, vouchers and a signed Pompey football. Sadly I missed out on the Karnataka C.D's. (again..).

Anysley Lister finished the free afternoon with an acoustic solo session, before returning with a full band to finish the Festival in the evening. The boy from Leicester was in superb form with some brilliant blues rock. With songs like "Soundman" and "Everything I Need" he could hardly fail. Appaently, he also has a large female following, and when one female member of the Barking Spider staff said "If Aynsley's there I'll definitely come" this instantly became the saying of the day….

Andy Broad, Portsmouth's own King Of The Blues, had earlier treated us to a solo set of Delta/Texas blues, a la Lightnin' Hopkins and Robert Johnson, finishing with "Broke Down Engine" by Blind Willie McTell.

All in all, another great festival, which kept true to the Festival's main aim - something for everyone!

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Southsea, Hampshire, PO4 9DR

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